All the Best Ways to Get to Cape Cod, Ranked
Consider options by land, sea, or air before you steer into traffic.
Headed to the beach this weekend? A bounty of options are available to you on your journey from Boston to the fried clam shack-dotted coast, be it by land, sea, or air. But which is the best of them all?
Which offers the most expedient and cost effective journey, with the least accompanying headache?
Here are our thoughts, from best to worst, and what it’ll cost you:
Cost: $40 round trip
Traffic? What traffic? Hop on these special commuter trains at South Station, which leave every Friday evening at 5:42 p.m., and proceed to zoom past the haters on the highway en route to Hyannis, Bourne, or Buzzards Bay (It also stops in Braintree, Brockton, Middleborough/Lakeville, and Wareham Village) with this wonderfully convenient and frankly under-appreciated weekend-only service. Kids ride free, you can bring your bike, and buses await you in Hyannis to take you further up the Cape if need be. You can also transfer easily to ferries to Nantucket or the Vineyard right there. The whole route takes roughly 90 minutes. On your return, grab the CapeFLYER at 6:10 p.m. in Hyannis and you’ll be home safe and sound just after sunset. Seriously, why do more of you not use this thing?
Cost: $118 round trip
We love getting on a boat for whatever reason, and this one—complete with a full bar and the general heading-to-P-town party atmosphere the environment engenders—is hard to beat. Sure, it’s not cheap, but considering it takes roughly 9 years to get to Provincetown by land, and that the “fast ferry” is particularly speedy (“the largest and fastest catamaran of its kind in North America,” according to Boston Harbor Cruises), your travel dollar goes an awfully long way. Not going to P-town? Don’t count the ferry out, as you can easily jump on a CRTA bus and head south. And if you’re heading to P-town on July 9, you can catch the annual voyage of the Provincetown II, which moves at a more leisurely clip and will get you there in about three hours, in case you want to maximize your time aboard this lovely vessel.
Cost: About $700 roundtrip on the weekends
Spare a thought for the peasants below as you cruise over the chaos unfolding below you in a quick airborne jaunt from Logan Airport. Prices vary depending on day and time, of course, but bear in mind that in just a half hour’s time, you’ll find yourself comfortably on the tarmac in either Provincetown or Hyannis. You’ll be on to dinner at Baxter’s at breakneck speed.
4. Drive in the dead of night
Cost: Whatever obscene amount gas costs at this very moment
It’s like a getting to the Cape cheat code: Rather than joining the Friday afternoon horde on the highway, consider sitting back and enjoying a calm evening at home with your family, and waiting until the witching hour before steering your sedan toward the shore. Legend suggests you can actually get to Hyannis in an hour flat at this godforsaken hour. As long as you can forego the mandatory stop at Marylou’s along the way, given they all close by 9 p.m., enjoy wide-open roads along the way.
5. Ride your bike
Cost: Water, snacks, maybe a spare tire or two
This option isn’t for the faint of heart, or weak of thigh, so we’re not sure we can recommend this for everyone. But if you’re confident on a bicycle, and have something in the neighborhood of 7-9 hours to spare, by all means hop aboard. Everyone knows the Cape is a fantastic place to pedal around, but there are also tried-and-true routes that will get you from Boston to P-town in no time at all (again, 7-9 hours).
6. Bribe a fisherman
Cost: Depends on the fisherman
Try greasing the palms of a lobsterman on the Fish Pier and see if he’ll drop you off someplace close to your beach house. If anyone tries this, report back.
7. Take a bus
Cost: $60 round-trip
Did you miss what we said about the CapeFLYER? In some kind of bind that prevents you from following the train schedule, or need to get there on a weekday? You can always suck it up and hop on a bus, which will get you from South Station to Hyannis for about $29 each way. You’ll still face traffic, but at least you won’t be driving and beginning your Cape vacation with a heaping serving of road rage.
8. Drive by day
Cost: Whatever gas costs at this very moment, while you just…sit there
The most cursed, and yet seemingly most common, means of Cape Cod transport is the old fashioned automobile at peak hours in the dreaded bridge traffic. For some, it’s a rite of passage to sweat it out with the masses, and so long as you can keep your blood pressure at a respectable enough level to actually enjoy your beach vacation upon arrival, fill your boots. But when you and your family first encounter bumper-to-bumper traffic and the rage begins to build, recall that there were many, many ways to avoid this fate. If only you’d listened.